Here’s an interesting article for all shutterbugs and film-makers bitten by the photography bug. The new VR or Virtual Reality Technology, is all set to change the landscape of photography/videography. Enter VR 360 degree cameras!
VR 360-degree cameras are a hit nowadays. Yes, you might have already heard about VR headsets, but the VR cameras are the ones that are stealing the limelight – especially since there is a possibility that YouTube might actually upgrade itself to add 360 degree visuals into its features. Once that is done, the VR cameras will be the ones that are the most demanded.
As a proud self-respecting photographer/videographer, you ought not to miss out on this new piece of technology that aims to immerse you completely in the medium unlike any technology ever before. Unless you risk being outdated, you have to get your technology cap on keep up with the changing times.
Whether you would like to admit or not, VR 360 cameras are creating quite a buzz; and if you consider yourself a geek, you might already be looking into these. The great news is, no matter what your budget, you can find something to suit you among these.
With companies like Samsung and Sennheiser entering the market, you can now expect some really good looking 360 cameras in the market. Check out our comprehensive guide on few of the best hand-picked products falling into three budget categories.
Entry level (from $300 to $500):-
- Giroptic: Giroptic is yet another stunning VR 360 camera which differs from the other ones in design. It is able to take 360 degree videos in 2K and photographs in 4K. The best thing about this one is that there is a night vision light bulb for capturing pictures in the dark – so you will be able to take crazy videos with it in no time. It is cool because of its handiness and it is also aimed towards the professional VR filmmakers. Once YouTube provides you the facility to view it in 360 degree, these cameras will become a huge hit. It is priced at only $499.
- Ricoh Theta S: Costing only $346.95 Ricoh theta S makes for the perfect entry level VR 360 camera in the market. Its specialties include full HD streaming and an internal memory of 8GB. This camera from Ricoh is only 3rd generation and has 360 degree feature. Its sensitivity can be ranged from ISO 100-1600 and there’s a dual 1/2.3 inch image sensor attached to it. With this camera you can capture 360 degree videos for 25 minutes consistently. Ricoh has added a large camera with improved video and still capturing facility with it.
- Nikon KeyMission 360: Nikon was the next in line to release a pocket friendly VR 360 camera at only $499. It is water proof up to 30m or 100 feet. Also, it is to be shockproof from heights up to 2m or 6.6 feet. This gives this phone an edge over the others. Also, it has unique electronic image stabilization. It supports micro SDHC or micro SDXC media cards. It is to support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC. However, the pricing and the availability of this product has still not been confirmed. We can only guess that it will be somewhere around $400.
- 360fly: 360fly is a handy VR 360 camera that captures High definition panoramic 360 degree videos. The camera also features Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on its LE interface. It is a bit lower than the others on the pixels range and captures only up to 2.26 mega pixels. This means that the footage will be of 1504 x 1504 pixels resolution only. The camera also claims that it the “the world’s widest single lens field of view action”. While it may be lacking in resolution, it makes up for the 120 feet water proof feature – with microphone. At $399 this camera with Lithium rechargeable battery is quite a steal deal.
- Pix Pro SP360: the Pix Pro camera may be lacking in a few features, but is a great entry level VR 360 camera priced at $499. It captures pictures at resolution of 4K. Full spherical 360 degree video is not supported in this camera as of yet. However the field of view per lenses is 235 degrees. If you want to try out a good camera within the budget, before heading out t buy a professional one, then this is the one you should be shooting for. The raw video resolution is of 2880 x 2800 pixels at 30 fps.
Mid range (from $800 to $4000):-
- Bublcam: Costing you $800, the special feature of this VR 360 camera is that you will get equi-rectangular footage with this camera. The pixels are fixed at 2688 x 1344 at 15 fps or at 1984 x 992p at 30 fps. The image quality for the normal sized pictures will be 5,376 x 2,688 pixels – which is also of superior quality. You can shoot in both time lapse and HDR modes through Bublacam. There are VR pan and tilt Pan Functions which add the cherry on top for these cameras. It comes with a 190 degree field of view.
- Vuze: If you have already had your experience with the entry level VR 360 cameras and you want to shoot more compelling videos, then you must go with Vuze. The boxy shape can easily be confused with a tiny UFO – but is very portable and handy. The power of 8 lenses along with 30fps shooting, will give you some great footage with this camera. Along with all these great features, you will also get some added sense of depth to the captures – this will make the image become more lifelike than any other VR 360camera. This is why perhaps the cost is a bit higher on the range – $1000.
- Sphericam 2: The footage quality is a big plus point of this VR 360 camera, since it captures up to 60fps. It comes with 8 tripod mounts- enabling the professional VR filmmaker to place their camera in any way to take the right footage. Priced between $1999 and $2499, it is meant solely for the professionals who want to take their film-making to another level. Global shutter is a unique feature of this camera. Also, it has 6 built in cameras and 4 built in microphones to captures the videos with surround sound audio quality. It is extremely professional in terms of footage quality.
- GoPro 360 Rig: The GoPro VR 360 Rig camera comes with either monoscopic or stereoscopic capture – both up to 8K resolution. The price for the monoscopic one is $1995+ while for the stereoscopic one it is $3995+. Basically all the best quality videos that you see in 360 degree are shot with GoPro Rig. If quality is your demand while buying the cameras, then this is the one you should go for. This is definitely not an entry level camera. So if you find it difficult to set up the cameras or to understand its features, this is not the camera for you. The stereoscopic shoot will need at least 12 cameras. So you will have to decide if you want monoscopic capture or the stereoscopic one.
- Orah 4i: This one from Vidostitch has a power packed set of features as well. Often overlooked because of its $1,795 launch price tag, this camera can actually broadcast your live video capture to any CDN. The resolution though is only 4K and is therefore mediocre in comparison to other cameras of this range. It has 4 image sensors and Fisheye Lenses 4 x f2.0 8-layers MC Glass. The resolution for output to live broadcasts is at 30 fps. The better thing about this camera is that its set up is hassle free and user friendly.
High End (above $10,000):-
- GoPro’s Odyssey: This VR 360 camera captures stunning pictures in 360-degrees that will leave you wanting more. The multitudes of rave reviews about it online, speak volumes about its effectiveness. The best quality of the cameras is its accuracy. GoPro’s Odyssey captures it perfectly. Also it is capable of shooting in 8k by 8k making it superior than the others in terms of its perfection. This is not to be confused with the other VR 360s from GoPro. Odyssey captures videos in stereoscopic 3D and has a small rig just like the other models from GoPro. The hardware software combination makes it pretty unique. It is priced at $15,000.
- Nokia Ozo: It costs you $60,000 – That being said, Professional VR 360 cameras don’t come cheap. It is able to capture the 360 degree videos wholly and audios too. This camera can send out signals to a dedicated field for when it is used for security purposes – for example, pinned to a drone, etc. it comes with a 500GB hard drive which can cater to about 45 minutes of uninterrupted capture. It has 8 lenses and comes with a 100 degree cross over with the pair next to it and a 195 degree spatial view – that should tell you all about it.
Within the high-end cameras, only Ozo and GoPro’s Odyssey make the mark – because they have taken the features to a different level altogether. The other marketers are playing safe by keeping the features very modest so that the price can be adjusted to a decent market value.
There is no doubt, that competition among VR companies is growing rapidly fast. This situation will lead to a situation, where cameras will be getting better and cheaper. One of the good examples is Berlin based company called i-mmersive. While making research for our article we stumbled upon their website, where they claimed to have been working for two years on their brand new VR stereoscopic camera with ultra high quality of image and affordable price. This information has intrigued us and we reached out to i-mmersive team for further details. This is what we got as a response and also a blurred image as an attachment:
Press Release Media Convention Berlin 2016
World Premiere: i-mmersive Live streaming VR System
i-mmersive is showing it’s 360° panoramic live transmission system consisting of panoramic stereoscopic camera, server technology, user platform, apps and cardboards for the first time to the public at the Media Convention Berlin, May 2-3 2016. This system allows people to create and participate in live concerts, events, happenings from wherever they want to in a stereoscopic 360° view – As if they were really there!
i-mmersive is a Berlin based VR hardware and software company. Our vision is to bring affordable VR solutions for everyone to experience Virtual Reality now! i-mmersive focuses on research & development of future generations of VR technologies & experiences.
Fax Quintus CEO of i-mmersive: “After two years of intense development, we are very proud to present the i-mmersive LIVE streaming VR system to the public at the Media Convention Berlin. The Media Convention is the perfect place to present innovative digital products and get in touch with an international audience. LIVE streaming of 360° content will be the next big thing in VR. Facebook and Youtube are already working on solutions for LIVE 360° content. The i-mmersive VR LIVE streaming system allows everybody to consume and publish LIVE 360° content and even earn money on it! Come and visit us at the Media Convention Berlin.”
In email, i-mmersive team also added that they are planning to launch crowdfunding campaign soon. So stay tuned and do not miss that opportunity.
Future of VR 360 Cameras
Sennheiser is all set to enter the market. One hears that the price of its gear will be around $1,000 – although it is not confirmed yet. Samsung’s 360 degree camera too can be regarded as the entry level camera, but users all over the world have agreed that Ricoh Theta S is better in comparison and has cheaper than Samsung by $50.
Although this is a new technology in the market, the highly advanced live stream version is yet to hit the markets. Only Orah 4i is the camera that can live broad cast as of yet. Also it is a little high on the price range.
This only means that even if we are able to capture photographs in high capacity, we will not be able to live broadcast them as of yet. Also we need a platform that can broadcast these videos live. YouTube does not have the same feature to provide us with yet. However, Facebook’s owner Mark Zuckerberg has already provided the live streaming facility for Samsung’s 360 degree gear. This means that we might actually be able to watch our loved ones LIVE on Facebook in the very near future. It would be just like sitting in your own home and being where your loved ones are – disregarding all barriers and boundaries.
Virtual Reality is here to stay. With it, we can change the way people communicate forever. Things like distance and barriers will no longer be valid.